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AGR case: SC adjourns hearing to Monday, asks for spectrum sharing details

BusinessToday.In     August 14, 2020

The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing in the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) related dues case to August 17. The apex court was hearing the case related to recovery of dues from the telecom companies under insolvency. The case will be heard at 3 pm on Monday. The apex court said that it wants details of the spectrum sharing agreements entered into by all insolvent companies, CNBC TV-18 reported. The Supreme Court also said that it wants to know who is using the spectrum of insolvent companies.

The apex court asked RPs of all insolvent telcos to furnish details on use of spectrum. It also asked the RP for Reliance Communications and Aircel to share details on entities which have placed bids under IBC. Reliance Jio and Reliance Communications were also directed to share details of spectrum sharing arrangement between the two.

The apex court earlier this Monday had adjourned the hearing on telecom companies under insolvency to August 14, saying that the government must come prepared with a recovery plan of dues from the telcos under insolvency.  The Supreme Court had asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to apprise it about how it plans to recover AGR related dues from telecom companies facing insolvency proceedings and whether spectrum given to these companies can be sold.

The DoT told the top court that their stand is that the spectrum cannot be sold by the telecom companies facing insolvency proceedings as it is not their property. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah had asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the DoT, to apprise it as to how it plans to recover the AGR related dues from these companies.

On July 20, the SC had reserved its order on permitting telecom companies to make staggered payments of AGR dues over 15 years. The three-judge bench had last month said that there would be no reassessment of the AGR dues calculated by the DoT. The Supreme Court had then said there is "no going back" on the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) demand on the AGR issues and it will only consider the timeline. While Vodafone Idea has to make a payment of balance Rs 50,399 crore, Bharti Airtel's outstanding amount is Rs 25,976 crore, Mehta had said on July 20.

The apex court had in October 2019 delivered the verdict on the AGR issue for calculating government dues of telecom companies such as licence fee and spectrum usage charges.The apex court had upheld the government's broader definition of AGR. After the top court had rejected pleas by Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices seeking review of the judgement which widened the definition of AGR by including non-telecom revenues, the DoT had in March moved a plea seeking staggered payment over 20 years.Also read: Big day for Airtel, Vodafone Idea! Supreme Court to give verdict on payment tenure of AGR dues

Also read: RCom insolvency to fall apart if spectrum not part of its assets: SBI tells SC

Also read: Airtel needs to tackle AGR crisis, tepid revenues before taking on Jio

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